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Aftermath: Rising from Ashes

The drama of the Tulsa Race War scarcely ended when the battle concluded or the last flames died in Greenwood. Most of black Tulsa was homeless, and many hundreds suffered from wounds and injuries. Survivor and author Mary Parrish searingly wrote:


“I can never erase the sights of my first visit to the hospital. There were men wounded in every conceivable way, like soldiers after a big battle. Some with amputated limbs, burned faces, others minus an eye or with heads bandaged. There were women who were nervous wrecks, and some confinement cases. Was I in a hospital in (World War 1) France? No, in Tulsa.”


In the wake of such unprecedented and unexpected savagery and slaughter within the heart of their own city, a large number of influential Tulsa citizens, including Chamber of Commerce leaders, feared more violence. They asked Colonel Patrick J. Hurley (OKLAHOMANS 2, Chapter 7), a prominent Tulsa attorney, bank president, and decorated World War I veteran, to recruit an elite force of one hundred trusted, levelheaded “former Rough Riders, Spanish War veterans, World War I veterans, and plainsmen,” all “having a record as a soldier or sure-shooting peace officer,” as “minutemen” to prevent further violence.


Later famed as United States Secretary of War and Franklin Roosevelt’s personal representative to America’s most important allies during World War II, Hurley was deputized by Sheriff McCullough. Judge and former Tulsa Mayor Loyal Martin, a bitter critic of the current city leadership’s inept handling of the recent events and failure to protect Greenwood, placed complete confidence in Hurley. Judge Martin promised that the Public Welfare Commission “will back him to the limit and that he has absolute power to carry out his clean-up campaign.”